What to Watch: Western Conference Roundup

We are down to the final two matches on the MLS calendar and Real Salt Lake is well in the thick of the playoff hunt.  With just two points separating spots 2-5 and one point dividing FC Dallas in the sixth spot with RSL and the San Jose Earthquakes on the outside looking in, the penultimate weekend is bound to be loaded with drama as teams jockey for passes to the Western Conference Semifinals, home-field advantage and postseason berths.  Through 32 matches, only Vancouver Whitecaps FC has clinched a postseason berth, so it’s all still left to play for in the final two weekends.

Here is a look at Sunday’s slate and how the matches impact RSL’s playoff standing.

First: The standings

Vancouver Whitecaps FC – 15-11-6, 51 points
Sporting Kansas City – 12-8-12, 48 points
Portland Timbers – 13-11-8, 47 points
Seattle Sounders FC - 12-9-11, 47 points
Houston Dynamo – 12-10-10, 46 points
FC Dallas – 10-9-13, 43 points
Real Salt Lake – 12-14-6, 42 points
San Jose Earthquakes – 12-14-6, 42 points
 

Sunday

5:30 p.m. Houston Dynamo at Sporting Kansas City
The Dynamo stormed back for a 2-1 win at home against SKC on Wednesday and while Sporting boasts a 10-1-5 home record this season, Kansas City is winless at home against Houston since 2011.  The 0-1-5 record at Children’s Mercy Park and the somewhat divergent forms of the two clubs – Houston is unbeaten in the last four matches while Kansas City is winless in the last three – sets up for a highly intriguing matchup.  A KC win would clinch a playoff berth, while a loss or draw would run the unbeaten string to four straight entering a Decision Day match at Rio Tinto Stadium.

5:30 p.m. FC Dallas at Seattle Sounders FC (FS1)
The teams are meeting for the second time in less than a month after a scoreless draw in Frisco on September 16.  Seattle has lost two of its last three and has just one win in the last seven matches (1-2-4), but hasn’t lost at home against Dallas since 2011.  Another win for Seattle – which would be its seventh straight home win over Dallas – would give RSL the chance to leapfrog Dallas in the standings with a win or draw against Colorado on Sunday.

5:30 p.m. San Jose Earthquakes at Vancouver Whitecaps FC
Vancouver is looking to clinch the top seed in the Western Conference with a win while San Jose is trying to stay within touching distance of the final playoff spot entering the final weekend.  Both teams have a lot on the line.  Vancouver is looking to vanquish a squandered 2-0 lead in San Jose back in March that saw the Quakes win 3-2 behind a goal and an assist from Chris Wondolowski.  After a seven-game unbeaten run, Vancouver has lost two of the last three matches.

5:30 p.m. D.C. United at Portland Timbers
Diego Valeri may have ended his person nine-game scoring streak, but that streak helped Portland stay into contention for home-field advantage in the West Semis.  Meanwhile, D.C. United is looking to avoid tying the all-time record for offensive ineptitude.  D.C. has been shut out 16 times in the attacking end, one shy of the all-time record.

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